With the New Jersey Devils in Los Angeles tonight to take on the Kings, beat writer Tom Gulitti caught up with former Devils star Scott Niedermayer, who was at the Staples Center filming a piece for his jersey retirement ceremony. On Dec. 16, the Devils will raise Niedermayer’s No. 27 to the rafters, the third number ever retired by the club (the others are Scott Stevens’ No. 4 and Ken Danekyo’s No. 3.)
On the topic of post-retirement honors, Niedermayer made one thing clear. If — okay, when — he goes to the Hockey Hall of Fame, he wants to do it as a New Jersey Devil.
“That’s where I played the bulk of my career,” Niedermayer told the Fire & Ice blog. “That’s where I learned a lot and grew as a young professional player and was able to use that later on in my career to maybe have more success. And I guess maybe as time goes by, that (feeling for being a Devil) might become stronger.
“The fact that I played out here (in California) and retire right from the Ducks, that’s sort of your recent memories and that’s sort of where you feel a part of that team. But, as time passes and you look back and the length of time that I was in New Jersey compared to the length of time I was out here, I’m comfortable saying that (he’s a Devil).”
Niedermayer played for New Jersey from 1992-2004 — winning three Stanley Cups and his lone Norris trophy — so being enshrined as a Devil is almost an afterthought. But considering the profound effect he had on the Anaheim organization upon signing there in 2005, going in as a Duck is somewhat viable. Niedermayer won a Cup and a Conn Smythe trophy with the Ducks and recorded his highest ever single-season point total (69). He also won the Cup in Anaheim with his brother, Rob, and still works as a consultant for the club.
All that said, Niedermayer will go to the HHOF as a Devil. He’s up for eligibility in 2012 in what promises to be an outstanding field — first-time eligible players include Joe Sakic, Jeremy Roenick, Mats Sundin and Brendan Shanahan.